Google has announced a slew of updates and new features for its mapping service in India as it wraps up this year and paves the way for the coming one. The tech giant launched its latest addition, Lens in Maps, which will be available in 15 Indian cities by January next year. It utilizes a combination of AI and augmented reality to provide helpful information about nearby businesses, including opening hours, ratings, reviews, and photos, simply by pointing the camera of a smartphone down the street.
In addition, Google has introduced Live View walking navigation in India, which will overlay arrows, directions, and distance markers on the Maps screen to make it easier for users to get to their destination. This feature, currently only available on Android, will roll out to over 3,000 cities and towns across the country.
“India is a massive, massive country with so many diverse needs,” said Miriam Karthika, VP for Google Maps Experience, at the launch event. “The scale at which we have to operate for India is very vast.”
Aside from these immersive viewing experiences, Google also announced Address Descriptors, a feature that uses machine learning signals to offer up to five relevant landmarks and area names around a pinned address. It will also display a landmark reference when a user shares their location. This capability, introduced for developers on Google Maps Platform earlier this year, will be available in over 75 Indian cities.
Moreover, Google has brought its fuel-efficient routing feature to India, which will be accessible on both four-wheelers and two-wheelers starting in January. This feature helps users reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions, and it will be available in Indonesia next year as well.
Since its initial launch in October 2021, fuel-efficient routing has prevented over 2.4 million metric tons of CO2e emissions globally, according to Google. The feature uses AI to analyze real-time traffic data, road elevation, and the vehicle’s engine type to identify the most efficient route.
To further enhance the mapping experience in India, Google has teamed up with India’s Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) and mobility app Namma Yatri to provide metro schedules and bookings directly through Google Maps. This service will be rolled out in Kochi first, with other metros joining in as they become part of the open e-commerce network.
Google has also expanded its Where Is My Train app, which is used by over 80 million users every month for intercity train journeys, to now include Mumbai and Kolkata local trains. It will continue to add more cities in the future.
So far, Google has mapped millions of kilometers of roads and 300 million buildings across India. The Maps platform sees over 50 million daily searches, 2.5 billion kilometers of directions every day, and over 60 million unique users contributing to the platform in the country. Additionally, Google has added 30 million businesses and places to Maps in India, enabling 900 million direct connections between merchants and consumers.
In July last year, Google introduced Street View in India, partnering with local entities Genesys and Tech Mahindra. Over 50 million users in the country are now using Street View, which was previously banned for six years due to security concerns.